Potted Rosemary: How can I help it to thrive?

thyme_waits_for_meJuly 27, 2007

I was wondering if there's anything else I can do to help my potted rosemary to thrive. It's not in 'bad' shape, it's just that it doesn't really look all that much different since the day I purchased it two months ago. It looks like a 4 inch twig with about 7 branches of the same length coming off of it. I've read on here that rosemary can be slow growing in its first year, but I'm unsure about how much of its failure to thrive is that and how much is a result of mistakes I made during it's two month history:

Month one. I planted it in a very large self watering container with 7 other herbs. Everything took off except for this one, which stayed pretty much the same. I started visiting this site and learned that herbs are best kept in individual containers, so I decided to move everything into its own pot. Also, as a result of visiting this site, I started thinking (probably way too much) about soils. I bought some Miracle Gro organic potting soil and a 6 inch ceramic pot with attached saucer (and single drainage hole) and planted it in there. That was a total disaster. It drooped pretty seriously so I came here and received great advice, and came to realize that I had a serious drainage problem. The first action I took was to buy a 6 inch plastic pot with numerous holes all around the perimeter, which I lined with an unbleached coffee filter. When I went to transplant yet again I found a fistful of water in the soil and the light bulb went on that this so-called potting mix was seriously compacting and totally inappropriate for use straight out of the bag (despite its claims). So, I remembered reading on here in a number of posts that rosemary liked 'sandy' soil. I went to Home Depot's garden department and asked where to find sand and they told me to go to the builder's area, which I took as a bad sign. I then went and looked at their soils and bought some Miracle Gro cactus soil. I repotted my plant again, 24 hours having passed since its initial transplant. I solicited opinions on here regarding the cactus soil and concluded that this hadn't been such a good idea after all. However, considering that I had probably already subjected it to more than enough transplant shock, I decided it was time to leave it alone for awhile before instituted any further 'improvements'.

Month two. I put it in a semi-shady spot to recuperate. The first two and a half weeks it continued to droop. Finally, about a week and a half ago, it actually began to straighten up. Yesterday I decided it was ready for what I hope is this year's final transplant. I've been having great success using Miraclo Gro Moisture Control potting mix with all my other herbs so I decided to give this a try, and moved it to an 8 inch pot with excellent drainage. So far so good...no signs of transplant shock. The only thing that has me somewhat confused is that I noticed the roots were no longer than my thumbnail...which didn't seem quite right to me. (I'm sure I didn't rip them either.)

Anyway...that's about it. Oh, as far as sunlight, it's back getting it's normal six hours of morning light (my balcony faces directly East) and I only water it thoroughly once a week (it doesn't get additional water from rain because my balcony is covered).

If anyone has any thoughts on any more I can do to help it along, or comments on the itty bitty roots, I would be most interested to hear them. Thanks!

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Well, my thought is, is that it's been through a lot. Don't dig it up again for awhile. Let it grow some roots, which might be why it's not growing so fast, it's making roots. Don't feel bad, you are a good plant mommy, you're trying really hard. Each and every time you repotted it, it's getting a minor set back, now, just leave it... let it do it's thing. You may not get any growth this year, but you'll get it next year. Give it the most sun you can now and water it thoroughly once a week and try not to think about it. :) A watched pot and all.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 2:35PM
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Heathen1 is right, I'd leave it alone, it's been through enough. Give it time and some patience and it'll probably come around.

The only thing that stood out for me is that you use MG Moisture Control. MG Moisture Control HOLDS the water in the soil, and for rosemary that may not be such a good thing. Rosemary doesn't like wet feet. A good, plain potting soil, mixed with some sand will do just fine.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 5:23PM
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Yeah, leave the poor thing alone to develop its root system without constant disturbance. It's been through a few transplant operations already in its young life, doesn't need any more for a while as each one will take at least 2 weeks to recover. No wonder it's droopy - so would you be, huh?

Rosemary is a slow grower in its first year or so, then it speeds up a bit. Patience is a virtue, m'dear!

Sun, sun, sun. Heat, heat. Water. DRAINAGE. Happy rosemary.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 5:39PM
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Thank you all so very much!

You know, I was away for several days and when I returned, I was astounded to find that my rosemary is now actually really perky looking with lush looking blue green needles and the first ever signs of new growth! I must say, that MG Moisture Control potting mix has been delivering some pretty amazing results for me so far.

As for what you all have advised, yes you're right - time to leave it alone now and let it build a good root system. Hopefully I'll be successful with keeping it alive over winter so that next year I can start harvesting some of it.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 8:58PM
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